Nickel and Dimed

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorCollege, Undergraduate February 2008

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It is not likely that too many people would offer to give up their comfortable lives in the middle class socioeconomic ladder only to see if they could merely survive in the world of hourly wage jobs and possible homelessness. However, Barbara Ehrenreich did just that in the name of research and perhaps at first a little naivety about what exactly she was getting into. Nickle and Dimed gives readers a first-hand look at what it is like to live in poverty. Hard to imagine? Think of third world countries where the people live in hopelessness, almost starving and with poor medical care, now take away the desert climate. That is the bleak picture of how so many Americans live in every city in the country. Is it different for males and females? With welfare reforms many more women are being forced back into the labor market and must struggle to support themselves and their families.

Does this put an extra strain on women in low wage jobs or are the challenges equal for both sexes? Living in poverty is a struggle no matter what sex a person is and although one's experiences may be shaped by what sex he or she is that is to be expected in all aspects of life. Ehrenreich would have had a different experience if she was a man however she did not directly address gender issues in the book but only made subtle hints at what could have been different for the sexes. Gender was an issue in certain aspects of her situation but did not serve as an important topic in the larger picture.

As Ehrenreich took her first job as a waitress it did not take her long to realize that it was the female workers who were busy running around...